January 2013 Project of the Month: DosBox

SourceForge is pleased to announce that the January 2013 project of the month is DosBox DosBox has the further distinction of being the only project every to be selected for POTM more than once.

DOSBox emulates a full x86 pc with sound and DOS. Its main use is to run old DOS games on platforms which don’t have DOS (Windows 7 / Windows Vista / Windows 2000 / Windows XP / Linux / FreeBSD / Mac OS X)

We did the interview a little differently this time, as the developers wanted to do the interview on IRC.

Rich: First, congratulations on being awarded Project of the Month, and being the first project *ever* to have that honor twice.

Qbix: guess we must be doing something right then

Rich: :)

Harekiet: hehe nice, how long has that been going on now?

Rich: Since 2002.

Rich: Why is there still a demand for a DOS emulator these days?

Qbix: Good question. The charms of old games maybe

Harekiet: I’ve been kinda wondering about that as well, must mostly just be nostalgia with people that played dos games, can’t really see any kids playing them. And the occasional company that still runs their ancient stuff

Qbix: Although, some of the support requests are (based on their use of language) at least of younger ones.

Rich: And apparently some 35,000 other people every week, too.

Qbix: I would think that everybody who wanted to play a game, would have downloaded dosbox by now :)

Rich: I know that’s why I started using DOSBox, probably 10 years ago.

Rich: Take us back to the beginning. How did you get started doing this?

Harekiet: Well that would be my doing mostly since I was playing emulated console roms and I always wanted to see how dos games could look with some of the graphic enhancement filters they used in those. And that was at the time windows 2000 came along and dos support in windows was on the decline rapidly

Qbix: And we relied on VDMSound

Rich: Is there still more to do? Is development still active, or is it primarily end-user support these days?

Qbix: Well, development is slow, but still there.

Harekiet: And to really add new features you kinda get annoyed at some of the design choices made at the time and really think it might be better to just write a new emulator from scratch

Qbix: True, so mostly we’re just improving compatibility at the moment.

Qbix: Although, some long requested features will probably be in the next version. But the new emulator from scratch idea is very tempting, with the knowledge that we have now on how to do it better

Rich: Does that seem like a serious possibility now, or is that just an idea at this point?

Harekiet: Yeah, it’s mostly just an idea

Harekiet: If you can really bring up the energy for it, especially if you consider other emulators like qemu that provide better pc emulation but could be tweaked for better dos support, so many possibilities :)

Qbix: Yeah, starting anew will take a lot of resources and energy

Rich: Is there any interest in adding support for other platforms like Android? Does that even make any sense?

Qbix: It’s actually already there, but not by us, at least not at the moment

Harekiet: It’s been ported to ios and android by others

Rich: How large is the actual developer community? Is it just the two of you, or do you have other major contributors.

Qbix: we have more than just us

Harekiet: Well we used to have another active developer but he gave up on it and there’s some active people making patches

Harekiet: But I’d say Qbix is most active with it
Qbix: yeah there is h-a-l-9000 who is an official dev and a few people who make patches on regular basis

Rich: Have you ever had any legal challenges about what you’re doing?

Qbix: Well, we are used a lot by companies, and some of them don’t have an idea what the GPL means, just that dosbox is free and works.

Harekiet: And we’ve held off on the mt32 emulator since it would require the roland roms. Although i don’t really think it would cause that much trouble, thought scummvm had it added as well

Qbix: Yes, and by making it a seperate driver, more projects can benefit. The mt32 emu has made a lot of progress lately – starts to sound as good as my real mt32. But we try to stay clear from legal problems.

Rich: So, nobody suing you because of emulating their stuff?

Qbix: nope

Rich: Oh, good. :)

Qbix: All our legal stuff is trying to get companies to stick the GPL.

Rich: If someone wanted to get involved in your project, 1) what kind of skills would they need and 2) what would need to be done?

Harekiet: That’s always quite a troublesome question, you get mails of people asking that

Qbix: Everybody who wants to get involved basically first needs to debug games that don’t work and fix them :)

Harekiet: It’s not like dosbox has proper documentation and if they can figure out how dosbox works that’s probably a good start :)

Qbix: Yeah, that is the idea of them fixing games – getting familiar with dosbox and all the things it emulates. So many specs… all the hardware, BIOS, video BIOS, DOS, XMS, EMS, MSCDEX and lots of other standards

Harekiet: I’d rather want that they spend their time making some wine for windows properly, some weird early windows games that don’t run in xp anymore. Or windows 7 for that matter

Rich: Well, thanks so much for taking time to talk with me. And congratulations again.

Qbix: Thanks for hosting us all these years!

Harekiet: What’s the total bandwith wasted?

Rich: 24,256,320 downloads

Harekiet: 3.6*10^13 bytes my calc says assuming 1.4mb per download. 33 Tb? that seems a bit excessive

Rich: Thanks again for your time.

Harekiet: okay

Qbix: okay. Thanks!

9 Responses to “January 2013 Project of the Month: DosBox”

  1. Gene from Richland_WA Jan 15, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    Good job guys. I only recently found DosBox when I started using a 64-bit Windows 7 laptop. Sure, there’s a DOS command window in Win 7, but it won’t run old DOS programs, doesn’t bother dealing with 16-bit. I found DosBox and have been running it with my favorite all-time DOS program – GrandView. That’s the outlining and “personal information manager” from way back when, circa 1990 and even before that when PC Outline was written. My first wish for DosBox would be access to the Windows clipboard. Under Win XP, I can copy and paste between a DOS program and other programs, and that’s very handy. Thanks for all your work,

    • Peter Remmers Jan 17, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

      Does DOS even have a standard clipboard? I don’t think so. Windows lets you mark and copy any text that is currently on the DOS screen. This should be implementable in DOSbox.

      • vitezslavzurek Jan 21, 2013 at 4:26 am #

        It does not, because DOS had not any either 😉 But I suppose some of us are too young to remember :)

  2. vitezslavzurek Jan 16, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    I must say I am a bit surprised that DOSbox was announced as the project of the month since the last released version is almost three years old 😀 But I can see there is some other activity and user contributions which must be also counted. I personally think DOSbox is great and I really can see some big performance improvements over the versions. I just recently played my favorite old strategy Z in multiplayer with my friend and enjoyed it a lot!

  3. rickumali Jan 16, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    I had a look at DOSBox late last year while trying to run a copy of Zork on a “modern” Windows 7 laptop. Great functionality! Great project!

  4. arturoea Jan 16, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    Ah, I thought they would mention on contributions from companies such as Good Old Games (gog.com) and such.

  5. starrynight121 Jan 21, 2013 at 3:13 am #

    Does DOS even have a standard clipboard? I don’t think so

  6. Peter Jan 25, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    Very useful program. Installed it to use an old accounting program and it works great for that purpose.

  7. Charlie Hendricks Jan 29, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    DosBox allowed me to relive my youth.  We were able to get the old submarine games playing again!